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United Merchant Fees, NYC Tax Top ASTA Agenda

August 7, 2009 By: George Dooley

ASTA and travel industry’s ongoing efforts to stop United Airlines’ from banning agents from using its merchant fee account and repeal of a New York City hotel occupancy tax on travel agent compensation, were among the key issues addressed at this week's meeting of ASTA's Board of Directors. During the meeting - ASTA’s first virtual Board meeting - Chris Russo was re-elected as ASTA president and chairman. The Board also installed the Executive Committee, which had three open positions for 2009-2010 and for which all three candidates ran unopposed.

Russo will serve with Hope Wallace, who was re-elected to the position of vice president and secretary. Nina Meyer will serve as ASTA’s treasurer. Also, pending ratification at the Board meeting during THETRADESHOW, Ellen Bettridge (American Express), the newly elected Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) chair, will serve as CAC-member director. Bill Maloney, ASTA CEO (ex officio), also will sit on the Executive Committee. The 2009-2010 Executive Committee will serve a one-year term, commencing at the end of THETRADESHOW.

Serving on ASTA’s 2009-2010 full elected Board of Directors will be:

*    Chris Russo, president and chairman

*    Hope Wallace, vice president and secretary

*    Nina Meyer, treasurer

*    Ellen Bettridge, CAC-member director (CAC chair)

*    Bill Maloney, ASTA CEO (ex officio)

*    Patrick Byrne, director-at-large

*    Lila A. Ford, director-at-large

*    Dan Lanser, director-at-large

*    Irene C. Ross, director-at-large

*    Kari Thomas, director-at-large

*    Lee Thomas, CAC-member director (CAC vice-chair)

*    Carol Wagner, director-at-large

*    Susan Aft (Southeast Chapter), CPC representative

*    John Lovell (Great Lakes Chapter); Chapter Presidents Council Chair

*    Karl Rosen (Orange County Chapter), CPC representative

*    ICPC chair (To be elected at next ICPC meeting)

During the meeting, Board members received updates on ASTA’s financial status and heard from the various departments on their progress for the year. Among the topics covered were:

*    ASTA and industry ongoing efforts to stop United Airlines’ from banning agents from using its merchant fee account

*    ASTA’s work to repeal a New York City hotel occupancy tax on travel agent compensation

*    ASTA’s actions on Capitol Hill and with the Departments of Transportation, Justice and Homeland Security to prevent regulations and legislation that would be detrimental to travel agents and the traveling public

*    New online member education, such as bi-weekly Webinars, ASTA's first Virtual Business Summit for Travel Agent members, tutorials and the 14-part Travel Agent Consultancy Fees course

*    New consumer awareness initiatives and media outreach; and

*    ASTA’s efforts to strengthen its position as the voice of the industry within each travel market sector.

The Board also unanimously voted to:

*    Change the name of “International Travel Professional” to “International Travel Associate” and clarify the bylaws to match the membership category

*    Continue support of the Credentialing Task Force, whose mission it is to investigate the feasibility of developing an industry-wide credentialing program

*    Approve merging the Allegheny Chapter and the Mid-America Chapter, effective September 2009

*    Approve the dissolution of the Connecticut chapter and consequentially, the formation of a Connecticut Sub-Chapter to be part of the New England Chapter, effective September 2009; and

*    Approve a company-wide document retention policy.


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